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US refusal to ensure transparency of lab activities raises questions — Lavrov

For about 20 years Washington has been balking at the idea of a protocol to establish a mechanism to verify and check parties' compliance with their commitment not to create biological weapons, Russia's top diplomat recalled

MOSCOW, May 13. /TASS/. Washington’s unwillingness to support the idea of a protocol to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons in order to create a verification mechanism makes one wonder what goals the US seeks to achieve through its overseas biolabs, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday.

"For almost 20 years, Russia and most other countries, including China, have been calling for a protocol to the convention that would establish a mechanism to verify and check states parties’ compliance with their commitment not to create biological weapons. The United States stands almost alone against this initiative. Tensions around the issue have escalated and Washington’s unwillingness to ensure the transparency of its military biological activities in various parts of the world raises questions about what is really going on there and what the actual goals are," Lavrov pointed out.

The Russian top diplomat emphasized that Moscow maintained dialogue on the matter with its partners within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). "We have some positive examples. We have reached an intergovernmental memorandum with Tajikistan, are working on a similar document with our colleagues from Uzbekistan and are in consultations with other post-Soviet countries, including Kazakhstan, Armenia and other neighbors. I believe that these efforts are very useful to allay any concerns that arise when infectious diseases emerge," Lavrov added.

He stressed that all countries needed to adopt a universal approach to the issue. "The best option for international community members would be to make an agreement on the establishment of a verification mechanism under the convention banning biological and toxic weapons. We will continue efforts to this end," the Russian foreign minister noted.

Politicization of process of search for source of coronavirus 

The process of search for the source of the coronavirus pandemic must not be politicized, Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday following the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Foreign Ministers’ Council meeting Wednesday.

"When we say that reasons behind emergence of the coronavirus infection must be determined, I believe that it is an absolutely justified wording. However, this must be approached from the standpoint of sense, of substance," he said. "And the substance is that we must save as many lives as possible and understand how this pandemic could be controlled in the future, considering medical estimations, estimations of the scientists that say that [the disease] is here to stay for a long time, if not forever, similar to other infectious diseases, such as the flu."

"We are against […] politicizing this scientific, humanistic approach in dirty competition," the minister underscored.